Olive Street House Concerts by Melissa Fite Johnson

1478989_10151821111791994_1022361121_nDinner first. In this small kitchen,

everyone becomes friends quickly. We

brush shoulders as we make our way

to the patio and back to the potluck.

Sometimes the stranger we strike up with

turns out to be the musician

in the makeshift concert hall—a living room

missing its coffee table and couch, lined

instead with chairs. Years ago, Rob built

a stage where most would put a TV.

Carol hung twinkle lights and

fastened a spotlight to the chandelier.


Then the concert, a few hours

with nomads from Austin, the Ozarks,

Scranton. They play guitar, upright bass,

harmonica. They play the fiddle and banjo.

Their voices are clear and strong:
This one’s for my niece,

in too big a hurry to grow up.

This one’s about my haunted apartment.

This one’s for the man

I thought I’d marry but didn’t.

This one’s about the VW van I took

on tour that broke down twelve times.
Listening, we could feel boring

for having become teachers. Why didn’t we

learn guitar, get over stage fright

by performing to a crowd of Cabbage Patch kids?

We should’ve marked up maps with stars

for every place we ever wanted to go,

plotted tours by connecting all those dots.
Or—and this is what I recommend—

we can just feel happy

to have found this private clubhouse,

where the password is $12

and coffee cake or calamari. We can feel

happy for food in our bellies and songs

in our ears, happy Rob and Carol have

opened their home. Happy that

in these nights, we become another story to tell.

Melissa Fite Johnson received her Master’s in English literature from Pittsburg State University in Kansas.  She was the featured poet in the Fall 2015 issue of The Journal: Inspiration for the Common Good.  Individual poems have appeared or are forthcoming in such publications as Valparaiso Poetry Review, Broadsided Press, Rust + Moth, The Invisible Bear, I-70 Review, Inscape Magazine, 3 Elements Review, Red Paint Hill Journal, Whale Road Review, Bear Review, The New Verse News, and velvet-tail.  In 2015, Little Balkans Press published her first book of poetry, While the Kettle’s On, which won the Kansas Authors Club Nelson Poetry Book Award.  Melissa and her husband live in Kansas, where she teaches English.  Feel free to connect with her at melissafitejohnson.com.

Pat Daneman has lived in Lenexa, Kansas since 1986. Recent work appears on the art and literature website, Escape Into Life, in The Moon City Review, I-70 Review, Bellevue Poetry Review, and The Comstock Review. Her chapbook, Where the World Begins, was published in 2015 by Finishing Line Press.


4 thoughts on “Olive Street House Concerts by Melissa Fite Johnson

  1. Melissa, Simply a wonderful poem! Looks like the draft I wrote in your workshop at Gatsby Days will be published in June! Thanks again for your help and support. Best, Arlin.

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